Cash donations to WKU reach record-breaking total in past year

Tessa Duvall

Faculty and staff are giving more than just their time to WKU-they’re opening up their wallets, too.

In July, officials announced that the university received a record-breaking $19 million in cash donations from July 1, 2009, through June 30, 2010.

Of that, about $790,000 came from 872 members of the WKU faculty and staff, a number that President Gary Ransdell called “impressive” at the Faculty and Staff Convocation last week.

Ann Mead, vice president for Finance and Administration and the current interim vice president for Development and Alumni Relations, said 5 percent of the President’s Circle, which consists of donors who gave $1,000 or more, is comprised of WKU employees.

This, she said, is an “incredible statement of support” for the university.

The $19 million total is an increase of 39 percent from the previous year, said John Paul Blair, assistant vice president for Institutional Advancement.

He said the nationwide prediction was that schools would see a modest 4 percent increase in donations.

Blair also said giving from alumni increased by 45 percent to $5.5 million.

These results are a very tangible way to measure the WKU experience, he said. Because alumni feel a lot of pride and connection to their WKU experience, they are more likely to donate.

For the past five years, WKU has competed with – and beat out – other colleges and universities in Kentucky to see which schools’ young almuni could donate the most money, Blair said.

In order to encourage alumni donations in the future, WKU tries to connect with students as much as possible now, Blair said. He hopes that young alumni will donate to their alma mater when they can.

“It’s a challenge nationwide to engage young alumni until they get on their feet financially,” he said.

Across the U.S., “eight in 10 young alumni – those under 35 – feel they have already given enough in tuition payments and don’t see the need for further donations,” according to a recent Washington Post article.

Most of the donations go toward endowing scholarships and providing support to faculty and staff, Blair said. Capital projects are another large area for donations.

Donald Smith, executive director of the WKU Alumni Association, said the fundraising campaign should bring in more than $20 million next year.

The results of the recession were most obvious in fiscal year 2009, when giving decreased by 22.9 percent from the previous year to $13.6 million, Smith said.

Currently, WKU is at $164.5 million of the $200 million fundraising campaign that will last until 2012, he said.